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on May 15, 2014 in Aviation

Communicating Emotion through Motion


We are visual communicators. We have to go way past an image being just sharp or histograms to the right if we want to reach out and touch others with our photographs. And while post is an important part of our visual communication these days, there is a certain pride we gain when we do it right in camera rather than relying on post. This craftsmanship is what propels photographers beyond the basic click to being storytellers. And much of it comes down to just practice, practice, practice!

Simple case in point. It’s highnoon, light pretty much has lost any character and is turning towards suicidal. But in front of you is a subject that is rare and unique so not shooting is not an option. Aircraft that are vets and still flying are a treasure. How do you make the uncommon out of the common? How do you reach out and grab the viewer to get in touch with your subject? How do you put emotion into the motion? The answer to me is clear cut, a real slow shutter speed. I’m already shooting in Shutter Priority to have exact shutter speeds to blur the rotation of the props to communicate motion in a still image (I HATE frozen props, what lazy technique!). Shooting handheld the D4s (loaded with that Lexar 256GB) / 200-400VR2, solid panning is a must at my normal 1/80 as the aircraft fly past. But when these C-47s started to roll down the runway, I wanted to totally blur out the background so you don’t see it and at the same time bring “speed” to the photo showing that the aircraft is taking off. Thinking of all of this when the engines first turned over, I set the shutter speed to 1/20. Ya, it could be a low percentage shot and for some, the thought of shooting that low not even possible. But any faster and the shot is a snore and that won’t get any viewer’s attention. But that’s why we practice, that’s why we don’t rely on post to save our images, that’s why we must take pride in our craftsmanship. It’s a real simple click that took more than a simple click to bring to life.